New tapings: Miranda Lambert, The Head And The Heart, Norah Jones

photo by Daniela Federici

Our 43rd season on PBS is getting off to a great start! We’ve already announced the Pretenders on March 13th, and we’re thrilled to report we’ll be taping Miranda Lambert on April 19th, The Head and the Heart on May 22nd and Norah Jones on June 11th.

Miranda Lambert makes her third appearance on ACL on April 19th in support of her sixth album The Weight of These Wings. Since the Lindale, Texas native’s first appearance in 2006, she has earned widespread acclaim, including two Grammy Awards, thirteen Country Music Association Awards, and an astonishing twenty-five Academy of Country Music Awards. Lambert is the reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year, having been bestowed this honor for seven consecutive years. A sprawling double-album, The Weight of These Wings debuted at #1 on Billboard’s country albums chart, as well as at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart, and spawned the current hit singles “Vice” and “We Should Be Friends.” Rolling Stone calls The Weight of These Wings Lambert’s “most ambitious LP…the sort of Great Album rock acts used to spit out regularly back in the day,” while the Boston Globe says the album “matches the take-no-prisoners attitude of her lyrics with music that travels unexpected routes but often winds up touching the soul.” The record ended up on over a dozen Best of 2016 lists, including those from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Billboard, Spin and more.

photo by James Minchin

When Seattle band, The Head and The Heart, who first appeared on ACL in Season 37, regrouped in 2016 to start writing together again after a sabbatical, “it almost felt like we were a new band, trying things we hadn’t tried,” bassist  Chris Zasche recalls. “We stayed at a bungalow on the beach. We’d wake up, have coffee and go boogie boarding. We were ready and excited to be back together.” That renewed sense of purpose can be felt throughout Signs of Light, the group’s third album and first release for Warner Bros. Records. “This album isn’t about us now having achieved our dreams,” says vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Charity Rose Thielen. “The day we started being able to live off our art was the day we achieved our dreams, in my mind. This is the album where we really fell into our true voices as those artists.” Recorded in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant), Signs of Light crackles with the upbeat, singalong energy of the band’s finest work. Throughout, the colors are brighter, the electric guitars are louder and the musical touchstones more universal. Lead single “All We Ever Knew,” written during the Let’s Be Still era but never captured to the band’s satisfaction until now, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, while “Turn It Around” seems primed to be a future concert staple, matching its inspirational message with a lush and multi-layered soundscape. Blurt say the album “fulfills the aim the band’s handle appears to indicate. This is after all, music that connects with the head and the heart, and imparts a dual sense of resilience and delight in its wake.” Join us on May 22nd for The Head and The Heart’s second ACL taping.

photo by Danny Clinch

Norah Jones made her first appearance on the ACL stage in 2002, just prior to the release of her landmark debut Come Away With Me, which propelled her to the world stage, sweeping the 2003 Grammy Awards and signaling a paradigm shift away from the prevailing pop music of the time. Since then, Jones has sold 50 million albums worldwide and become a nine-time Grammy-winner, returning to ACL in 2007 and again in 2013. But when the Texas native first moved to New York City in the Summer of 1999,  it was with the hope of being a jazz singer and pianist, and her jazz influences — from Bill Evans and Miles Davis to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone — have always remained. Now Jones has come full circle with Day Breaks, her sixth album which finds her returning to the piano and her jazz roots, while still retaining her unmistakably unique sound that weaves together several bedrock styles of American music: country, folk, rock, soul, jazz. Day Breaks is a kindred spirit to Come Away With Me, though it is unquestionably the work of a mature artist who has lived life and grown immensely in her craft. The album features jazz luminaries including saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade, who played on Norah’s debut and became the backbone of the new album. Rolling Stone calls it “A marvelous consolidation, floating buoyantly between past tradition and her own unique present,” while MOJO declares Small-hours jazz perfection … her masterpiece to date … inspired and breathtaking.” Jones returns to the ACL stage on  June 11th.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: The Pretenders

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce our first taping of Season 43—with the legendary rock & roll band The Pretenders on March 13, 2017.   

Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders come to ACL in support of latest album Alone. Recorded with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at his Easy Eye Studio in Nashville, the album was initially conceived as the follow-up to Hynde’s acclaimed 2014 solo debut Stockholm. But as its songs and sonics took shape, the collection soon revealed itself as the first all-new Pretenders LP since 2008′s Break Up The Concrete. Backed by a team of what Hynde proudly calls “real people playing real instruments,” including most of Auerbach’s side band the Arcs, Akron natives Hynde and Auerbach made for ideal foils, two idiosyncratic songwriter/musicians possessing a deep knowledge and even deeper love of rock & roll.

Alone bears all the trademarks of The Pretenders’ legendary canon: raw and rollicking riffs, poignant balladry, taut hooks and indelible melodies – all in service of Hynde’s heartworn, ever-unsentimental songcraft. Nearly four decades on from the band’s epochal 1980 debut album, Hynde’s instantly identifiable voice is perhaps more emotional and aggressive than at any other time in her nearly 40-year career. That extra bit of edge only serves to add fire to new Pretenders classics like the brutally candid “I Hate Myself” and the defiant title track, a spiky rocker that sees Hynde extolling the joys and virtues of solitude. “At 65, she’s still mouthing off over brass-knuckled rock & roll,” notes Rolling Stone, “flexing command and carnality with no apology.”

Other highlights include “Roadie Man,” a softly sung paean to the hard working touring crew that has been kicking around Hynde’s unrecorded songbook for more than 25 years, the seductive “Let’s Get Lost,” and “Never Be Together,” featuring an inimitable contribution from legendary twang bar hero Duane Eddy. The UK’s The Independent asserts that Alone is “a fine album, subtly varied in both musical style and lyrical slant,” while Magnet declares it’s “as good a Pretenders record as has been made.” Armed with original drummer Martin Chambers, a new landmark and their catalog of undeniable classics, The Pretenders finally make their long-awaited ACL debut.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Parker Millsap, CeCe Winans and Alejandro Escovedo

photo by Laura Partain

Austin City Limits closes out a remarkable Season 42 on a high note with the final artist tapings: Parker Millsap on November 9, CeCe Winans on November 20 and Alejandro Escovedo on November 30.  St. Paul and the Broken Bones will also tape a show on November 20, as previously announced.

Following a triumphant appearance on this year’s Americana Music Festival special, singer/songwriter Parker Millsap makes his Austin City Limits debut in support of his third album The Very Last Day. The 23-year-old grew up doing congregational singing in church and listening to old blues albums in his room, not realizing that howling like a Delta blues ghost readying the world for rock & roll isn’t how a skinny white boy from Purcell, Oklahoma usually sounds. The Very Last Day proves an ideal vehicle for Millsap’s message, delivered via gospel-tinged rock & roll poetry. In the midst of a world fond of condemnation as entertainment, Millsap offers open-armed love of people and their stories. Whether he’s singing about the experience of a gay friend, longing for his evangelical father’s acceptance, or as the King of the Underworld wild with passion, his character-driven songs mine deep wells of joy and despair to create gut-punching narratives that are sometimes hellish, sometimes heavenly, and always human. We’re happy to welcome Parker Millsap to his first Austin City Limits taping.

Part of gospel’s first family the Winans, CeCe Winans is the best-selling female gospel artist of all time. The Detroit native made her performing debut with her brother BeBe in 1982 as part of the PTL Singers. The pair launched their career as a duo in 1987, releasing bestselling albums that earned them gold and platinum albums, three Grammy awards, nine Dove awards and numerous hit singles on the R&B charts. CeCe began her solo career in 1995 with the Grammy-winning platinum album Alone in His Presence, scored a top 10 single in “Count On Me,” a duet with close friend Whitney Houston, and has continued to have an impact on gospel and R&B music ever since. She comes to the ACL stage bearing latest single “Never Have to Be Alone,” as well as new songs from a forthcoming record to be released in 2017. We’re thrilled to welcome the great CeCe Winans to her first Austin City Limits, where she will share the stage with dynamic Alabama soul outfit St. Paul & the Broken Bones.  

photo by Nancy Rankin Escovedo

Veteran Austin singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo returns to our stage in support of Burn Something Beautiful, his twelfth solo album. Recorded in Portland with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey as co-writers and producers, Burn Something Beautiful is at once a celebration of the rock & roll life, a contemplation of mortality and a tribute to the healing power of love. The project coalesced beautifully with the help of an esteemed group of musicians who give the album a band feel, including ACL vets Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Kelly Hogan (Neko Case), John Moen (the Decemberists) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney). Connecting repeatedly with his soulful heart and voice at its core, Burn Something Beautiful is Alejandro Escovedo at his very best. The San Antonio native is, of course, no stranger to ACL – he has been on the show four times previously, starting as a member of Rank & File when they appeared on the show in 1983. We’re thrilled to welcome back Alejandro Escovedo.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: St. Paul and the Broken Bones 11/20

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a new taping with rising soul/rock stars St. Paul and the Broken Bones on November 20.    

Formed in 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama, the sextet hits the ACL stage in support of its new album Sea of Noise. Recorded in Nashville with producer Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, Devendra Banhart), the LP is a successor to the Broken Bones’ 2013 debut album Half the City, which introduced the group’s blazing mating of ‘60s soul fire – daubed with latter-day influences like Sly Stone, David Bowie, and Prince — to frontman Paul Janeway’s impassioned singing and writing. The new album witnesses a deepening and broadening of the unit’s musical reach and lyrical concerns, including strings arranged by legendary Stax Records arranger Lester Snell and words influenced by Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy. The album’s lyrical and emotional richness is heard loudly in stunning new compositions like “Burning Rome” (which Janeway describes as “a letter to God, if I could write it”) and the startling “I’ll Be Your Woman,” which knocks traditional soul music gender roles on their heads. Of the finished work, Janeway says, “Sea of Noise is not quite a full-blown concept record. It is focused in terms of subject matter – finding redemption and salvation and hope.” Hot off gigs opening for the Rolling Stones and a slot at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, St. Paul and the Broken Bones brings their take-no-prisoners live show to our studio for what promises to be a memorable ACL debut.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Cyndi Lauper

photo by Chapman Baehler

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a new taping with a pop culture icon: the one and only Cyndi Lauper. We’ll be taping this special performance on Friday, Sept. 9th.

The New York native scarcely needs any introduction. She’s a two-time Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling singer and songwriter with a string of instantly recognizable hits: “True Colors,” “She Bop,” “I Drove All Night,” “Change of Heart,” “Time After Time” and, of course, the immortal “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” She’s also a recent Tony-winning Broadway composer for the smash musical Kinky Boots as well as an Emmy-winning actress for her role on Mad About You. Her current project, however, blazes a new trail. Detour, her eleventh album, takes an unexpected Southern turn, as Lauper puts her signature spin on a dozen country classics. Detour showcases Lauper’s unmistakable voice on tunes from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and features guest performances from some of country music’s finest: Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson. She recorded the album in Nashville alongside a band comprised of the city’s top session players. “When I was a really young kid, country music was pop music, so this is what we grew up listening to,” Lauper says. “These songs are part of some of my earliest memories.” Magnet calls the record “a great showcase for Lauper’s vocal range and prowess,” while Uncut asserts that “she flexes both empathy and interpretive might.” People says “that New Yawk spunk and those frisky, agelessly girlish vocals are…even more charming when paired with a steel guitar’s whine.” Lauper will showcase both Detour and her catalog of hits in an ACL performance sure to be one for the ages.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits is delighted to announce the return of an ACL favorite: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. Revered singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harper is set to return to the ACL stage on Thursday, September 1st, 2016. Harper will be joined by The Innocent Criminals, who recently teamed with Harper to release, Call It What It Is, their first record together in nine years.

Since his 1994 debut, Ben Harper has amassed worldwide acclaim as a genre-spanning singular talent with an unmatched ability to blend the personal and political. The Innocent Criminals – percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles and keyboardist Jason Yates – reunited with Harper for a tour in 2015, but quickly discovered that he had more in mind than simply revisiting the group’s prodigious collection of hits. In fact, Harper had been quietly amassing material for a new record with his long-time band mates. “I thought we would be more energized and revitalized by thinking outside the box and starting with new material in the studio before we dug into the old stuff,” explains Harper. “It was meant to be a signpost that we’re here to forge new ground musically and personally. Because of that, the older material started to sound brand new too.”

Released via the legendary Stax Records in April 2016, Call It What It Is explores themes of deep cultural and emotional resonance. Plaudits have poured in from around the world. Uncut called the album “a well-honed primer in what Harper does best, fusing blues, rock, folk, country, R&B, gospel and reggae with politically conscious lyrics into a dynamic stew.” And Entertainment Weekly raved, “A welcome homecoming…his most diverse collection in years. Grade: A-.”

“I gave everything I could to it,” says Harper. “To be able to say that we’ve left no stone unturned just feels great.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New tapings: Grupo Fantasma and Hayes Carll

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Austin City Limits welcomes back two true Texas originals: Grupo Fantasma on June 28  & Hayes Carll on August 30.

Although Austin’s music scene changes constantly and rapidly, one band that endures and continues to evolve is the Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma, who first appeared on ACL in Season 33 in 2007 and returned for 2015’s Hall of Fame Ceremony.  Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the powerhouse Latin funk outfit’s first show and the release of their widely-acclaimed sixth album Problemas.  Longtime favorites of music icon Prince, the band served as his on-call backing band for many years, appearing with the superstar on stages from Coachella to the Golden Globes.  Praised as one of the most important independent acts in the Latin genre, they are widely known for their energetic live shows, which NPR describes as “seamless…whenever and wherever they’re on stage.” For Problemas, the nine-piece band decided to break from their DIY tradition of self produced albums. The band approached Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, someone they knew would be a well-seasoned and sympathetic producer and, as a fan, eager to work with them. Berlin states,”I see Grupo Fantasma as a bar-setter, not just for Latin music but in popular culture. Their effortless ability to shift from being one of the finest Latin bands around to one of the baddest funk bands alive and back is a rare and beautiful thing. The record we set out to make was our effort to codify that idea, and I think we succeeded. These guys are the absolute best at what they do.” This special taping will also include performances from the band’s all-funk alter ego Brownout and founding former member Adrian Quesada.

photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

“A wry Texas troubadour with a knack for crooked grace and a clever turn of phrase” (New York Times), singer/songwriter Hayes Carll returns for his second appearance, having first graced the ACL stage in Season 36 in 2010. The recipient of two Song of the Year awards, including the Americana Music Association’s for “She Left Me For Jesus” in 2008 and American Songwriter for “Another Like You,” in 2011, the Woodlands native picked up a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Country Song via LeeAnn Womack’s recording of his “Chances Are.” All of these experiences were just the warm up, however, for Lovers and Leavers, an album Paste calls “the finest of his career.” Produced by Grammy-award winning producer and musician Joe Henry (Glen Hansard, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt), the 10-track album was recorded live over five days in L.A. during the winter of 2015. Of the album, which was partially inspired by his own life, Carll reveals, “I didn’t have one song that I knew would be a sing along or would make people dance. I felt vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. But I got what I wanted – a record with space, nuance, and room to breathe. It felt right for my art. It felt right for my life. Lovers and Leavers isn’t funny or raucous. There are very few hoots and almost no hollers. But it is joyous, and it makes me smile.” The Austin Chronicle calls it “a startlingly personal set of songs, powerfully stripped back from the raucous, clever narratives that have been Carll’s hallmark.” Lonestar Music enthuses that the album “perfectly captures the phases and stages of falling apart, facing the truth, falling in love and facing the fear and finding one’s heart in the process,” concluding that Lovers and Leavers is “tentative, doubtful, shaky, mournful and yes, wonderstruck.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

New taping: Paul Simon

photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first-ever appearance by music legend Paul Simon, who is set to tape his ACL debut on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

An artist whose work has had a profound effect on music and culture, Simon is one of the most successful and respected songwriters in popular music history.  Almost thirty years since the release of his landmark album Graceland, Simon continues his musical and sonic exploration on his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which is set for release via Concord Records on June 3rd, 2016. Produced by Simon and longtime musical partner Roy Halee, Stranger to Stranger is full of thrilling textures that feel fresh and modern, while still offering subtle and artful allusions to our shared musical past. “Its about making music that sounds old and new at the same time – music with a sense of mystery,” Simon explains of the new album, his first new studio recording since 2011’s widely acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.  “Sound is the theme of this album as much as it’s about the subjects of the individual songs. If people get that, I’ll be pleased.  The right song at the right time can live for generations. A beautiful sound – well, that’s forever.”

We can’t wait for this historic appearance, as we welcome Paul Simon to the ACL stage for the very first time.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.